Voters seen rejecting direct election of cabinet

Justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga in March started the government campaign against the initiative for a direct election of the cabinet Keystone

Swiss voters are likely to reject a proposal by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party to introduce a direct election of cabinet members, according to an opinion poll ahead of a nationwide vote on June 9.

This content was published on March 31, 2013 - 11:15

The nation-wide survey commissioned by Sunday newspaper Sonntagsblick showed that 51 per cent of Swiss voters will reject the popular initiative, which is also opposed by parliament and the government. About 45 per cent said they will accept it, while four per cent of the people surveyed had not made up their minds.

Switzerland will vote for the third time about a proposal to have the cabinet elected by the people. The centre-left Social Democratic Party had handed in initiatives in 1900 and 1942. Each time about two out of three voters had rejected the proposal.

Supporters of the initiative say the reform would boost the country’s system of direct democracy. Opponents, on the other hand fear that the change would lead to costly and time consuming election campaigns for candidates and political instability.

The initiative, which was handed in by the Swiss People’s Party, would only win a majority with its own voters, the poll showed. As many as 78 per cent of the rightwing party would accept the proposal, while about two out of three of the Social Democratic Party as well as the centre-right Radical Party and Christian Democratic Party would reject the initiative.

The opinion research institute also asked voters who they would choose if they could elect the cabinet members. Voters said they would pick energy minister Doris Leuthard, interior minister Alain Berset, justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga, finance minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and foreign minister Didier Burkhalter.

Current economics minister Johann Schneider-Ammann from the Radical Party and defense minister Ueli Maurer from the Swiss People’s Party, however, would be voted out of office and be replaced by current senators Pascale Bruderer from the Social Democrats and Karin Keller-Sutter from the Radical Party.

The polling firm Isopublic surveyed 1,003 voters in the German and French-speaking part of Switzerland. Half of the people polled said they were certain or very likely to participate in the vote.

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